For two years, Clay County resident Edna Chadwell, along with seven others, have waged a legal battle against the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA). The suit specifically targeted the FSSA Aged and Disabled Waiver Program.
Earlier this week, a decision by Clay County Superior Court Judge J. Blaine Akers ruled that caps on services through the program were "permanently enjoined."
The Aged and Disabled Waiver Program permits Medicaid recipients who "otherwise required institutionalization for their conditions -- whether that be in a nursing home, a hospital or another facility -- to receive services in their homes or a community-based setting," according to American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana (ACLU) attorney Gavin Rose.
Rose has said the waiver program had to be renewed by the FSSA every five years and the renewal then goes through an approval process by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
However, Rose said when the renewal process came up in 2008, the FSSA included a limitation on the number of "attendant care" hours that enrollees may receive.
Despite the recent court ruling, Rose told The Brazil Times the state now has 30 days to either file an appeal or file a Motion to Correct Errors. He said if neither takes place, the court decision is "final."
In late 2008, Rose said FSSA received a preliminary injunction which stated it had to continue providing the maximum amount of care hours for those in the program, adding the court ruling earlier this week made the injunction "permanent." He said even with the injunction in place, the state had agreed to not cap hours through the program until the case was resolved.
Rose said the court ruling essentially said the cap on services was a violation.
"We were absolutely thrilled," Rose said. "It's a very good decision. This will save (the plaintiffs) from enrolling in a nursing home. This is something (Chadwell) would have had to do, or consider, if the hours were reduced."
Rose said he contacted Chadwell Wednesday and she was "deliriously happy."
"These are services that she needs," Rose said.
"I won a two-year battle," Chadwell said. "I'm pleased for myself and everybody else this can help."
Rose said he doesn't expect to hear if the state will appeal for at least a month.
"I would not be surprised either way," he said. "It's up to them. But I wouldn't be surprised if they do."
He said if the state does elect to appeal the decision, the case will go to the Indiana Court of Appeals.
"The Indiana Court of Appeals is one of the more efficient appellate courts in the nation," Rose said. "But this could take months. If the state decides to appeal, we're certainly not at the end of the road."